If you either follow @smwscanada on Twitter or reside in BC then you may have found news over the past few weeks surreal, bizarre, and discomforting. Talk of the ”prohibition-style raids” of whisky from four SMWS partner bars in British Columbia has taken over what is typically a fun place to talk about whisky. The news even left a slight feeling of unease hanging over the amazing Victoria Whisky Festival and the charities’ supported by the event, though the SMWS Canada still found a way to power through.
Luckily for us in Alberta, it is highly unlikely that something like this would happen here. If you would like to show your support for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada and your whisky-loving brethren on the left coast in this battle over archaic liquor regulations you are welcome to sign this concerned whisky fan-authored petition here.
It probably goes without saying that the fresh enthusiasm of January is gone and we are currently forced to view reality on its own terms – making our way through the cold, brutal slog of February with Valentine’s Day being the one bright star showing in the distance?
Disregard all of that: it is my own cynicism and overwrought sentiment taking over. These second-month-of-twenty-eighteen blues and this bitter winter weather are taking their toll. For me there is only one cure: I want more cask strength whisky poured from those marvelous green bottles!
February’s SMWS lineup continues on the trend of seeing more new-label bottles with only one of the older look bottles in the lineup (42.30). It also contains no Islay whisky.
The second Outturn of the 2018 seems to have a theme of everything happening in ‘twos’ For this February the SMWS Canada has graced us with:
- 2 bottles from Speyside aged 20 years or more
- 2 single casks are at 60% or higher
- 2 peated single malts from Highland Islands
- 2 cask finished single malts
- 2 distilleries we have not seen in a while, including one that has not had a Canada release since 2014!
So enough of the doldrums and bad news. Let’s jump into the lineup!
41.95 – JOUSTING WITH FLOWERS
This 11 year old Speysider comes in at 56.2% after maturing in a refill barrel
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla
Outturn: 226 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Armed with huge floral bouquets the two jousting horsemen faced each other and raised their caramel wafer shields. With a kick of the heels they charged and the tremendous impact launched buds of roses, hyacinths and carnations into the air, giving rise to a sweet scent that mixed with the soft leather of the harnesses. A gust of wind blew the surrounding conifer and eucalyptus trees, blending a fresh citrus and peppermint breeze with the smell of wood sap. The falling petals cleared to reveal the two jousters as they stood to their feet clutching their battered flower stems. Taking a tea break of champions they enjoyed marmalade on rye bread toast, crème Brule and vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce.” $139.99
70.20 – SPICED SAINT-TROPEZ TART
From a refill barrel, this 10 year old Highlander is 57.6%
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 203 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A fresh, bright and summery scent filled the room, cupcakes in white fondant icing and topped with a cherry, sparkling strawberry lemonade and a tropical fruit punch iced tea brought a smile to our faces and that smile never left us. Wonderfully sweet on the palate neat, like a vanilla cream filled brioche (Saint-Tropez tart) balanced by the sweet and tangy spiciness of a tamarind date chutney – most unusual but it worked! Diluted the scent of freshly made lemon filled doughnuts and salt & vinegar crackers turned it equally tasty and tempting. The taste was now sweet and slightly perfumed as well as herbal like a ginger lemon mint tisane.” $129.99
7.176 – SILKY SMOOTH SENSATION
At 23 years old, this Speysider came from a refill hogshead and is 51.6%
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla
Outturn: 249 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A friendly, inviting and warm aroma greeted the Panel and we felt like being transported on a soft fluffy magic carpet to the Caribbean to sit in front of the pavilion to watch a cricket match. The floral scent of magnolia mixed with tropical fruits and new leather as well as linseed oil made us all feel very relaxed. Time for tea; ginger banana cake with a lemon frosting, passionfruit vanilla custard slice and sticky chocolate plum cake. Play resumed after a drop of water with chewy coconut macaroons and minty lemon-ginger cookies and the finish was like the gentle cooling trade winds at sunset.” $214.99
9.119 – TASTY AND REWARDING
This 24 year old Speysider comes in at 48.9%; after 23 years in ex-bourbon wood it was transferred to a 1st fill red wine hogshead
Flavour profile: Light & delicate
Outturn: 185 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose gave us toffee, caramel and brown sugar, tinned pears, cinnamon swirls, glazed apple cake and plum flan, with suggestions of prawn cocktail crisps. The palate was tasty and rewarding – Cadbury’s chocolate fudge, dry roasted nuts and amontillado sherry, with clove, chili and burnt wood on the finish. The nose became more delicate with water – oiled wood, apple pie, peach melba and ginger snaps. The palate developed plum jam, Jaffa cakes, vanilla wafers and honeycomb; understated savoury and spicy notes tucked behind – subtle and easy-drinking. After 23 years in ex-bourbon wood we transferred this to a first-fill red wine hogshead.” $236.99
55.46 – COMPLEX LAYERS OF FRUIT AND WOOD
At 58.1% this 16 year old Speysider spent 15 years in ex-bourbon wood before being transferred to a new French oak hogshead
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits
Outturn: 293 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Double maturation has produced a complex nose – oak, aniseed, turmeric, ginger and varnished wood underneath fruity, perfumed layers of Amarena cherries, plums, prune juice, blackcurrant and Madeira wine. The palate also had attractive fruit and wood – plum, cherry, pear, black grapes and raisins counterpointed by sherry staves, tree bark and cured venison (with a particularly drying finish). The reduced nose – beetroot crisps in a basket, crystallized ginger and Black Forest ham on a wooden board. The palate now added liquorice chews and dark chocolate with ginger. After 15 years in ex-bourbon wood we transferred this to a new French oak hogshead.” 169.99
4.229 – VOLCANIC JAM
This Highland Islander comes in at 60.3% after maturing in a refill butt
Flavour profile: Lightly peated
Outturn: 539 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose was a volcanic eruption of sweet heat like raspberry jam gurgling and bubbling on the stove. Puffs of smoke carried the alluring aromas of burning apple wood and roast duck with honey-coated vegetables. A complex floral character was definitely present like heather and bog myrtle but also with lavender, thyme and rosemary. The palate continued along a path of roasted meat, perhaps venison or pork with devilishly tempting juicy crackling that had been singed to charcoal along its edges. Heavy liquorice and star anise combined with salted caramel and the dark berries of rich fruitcake but also with the citric tang of fresh grapefruit. The finish merged smoky and ashy wood with earthy herbs and the suggestion of chocolate sauce.” $209.99
42.30 – CHIMNEY SWEEP’S ROMANTIC BBQ
This 9 year old Highland Islander was matured in a refill hogshead and comes in at 60.6%
Flavour profile: Peated
Outturn: 228 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A dynamic nose, containing sharp fruits (pear, pineapple, sherbet lemons, tinned fruit cocktail), ferns by a rocky waterfall, smoked shellfish and a musket fired up a chimney. The palate had intense, youthful spirit and smoke; also pear ice-lolly, toffee apple, butterscotch, muscovado and bacon Frazzles, then charred logs, wasabi and pickled ginger to finish. The reduced nose conjured up a romantic barbecue with a chimney sweep – lobster, scallops, sweet smoke, snuffed out vanilla candles and hints of Mosel wine. The reduced palate remained voluptuously viscous, bursting with sweet peat smoke, chocolate pralines and liquorice; young and feisty, but totally enjoyable.” $119.99
Thank you to Peasant Cheese for providing the small bite pairings for the tasting!